Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Canada's Coup?

I have been extremely busy at work this week, so I haven't paid much attention to what is going on in Canada (even thought it seems like pretty big news politically).

This diary at Open Left does a great job of explaining the situation in Canada.

Canada's three Opposition parties have united to replace the governing Conservative Party with a Liberal/NDP formal coalition just six weeks after voters returned the CPC to power with a near parliamentary majority. This is a stunning turn of events.

First off, it isn't a fait accompli just yet, because there is the technical but vital minor detail that Stephen Harper is still Prime Minister, and until the Governor General fires him, or Parliament passes a vote of non-confidence, this historic agreement between three opposition parties is just so much paper and could fall apart in a flash.

What Happened?

Harper started this by overreaching. In the weeks prior, his government has been sticking to a Hooverism line on maintaining the federal budget surpluses, including the finance minister speculating about selling off some major federal assets.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's this message sent to his constituency from Honorable John McKay in Ontario, which sums up the situation fairly well. At his point, Parliament has essentially been locked out until some time late January-- a prorogation was granted by the Governor General.(See particularly the paragraph that starts with "Thirdly,"-- here bolded)

"My Fellow Canadians:

In the last election Canadians indicated that they wanted Parliament to work. They wanted a Parliament that would ensure stability during this time of economic uncertainty. Canadians also said that they wanted the tone of Parliament to change from one of hostility and bickering to one of cooperation.

The Prime Minister apparently agreed.

However, it has become abundantly clear that the Prime Minister was not only not interested in working with the opposition, but in a stunning lack of respect for democracy, wanted to silence all opposition. The ideas offered by the Liberal Party and others were treated with contempt and were summarily dismissed. He spent millions of dollars ridiculing Stephan Dion. All the while he seemed to be unaware that he had received less than 40% of the popular vote. The Canadian people had not seen fit to trust him with a majority. Twice.

Secondly, the insult to Canadians contained in the fiscal update showed that not only was there no fiscal stimulus like that of every other G7 nation, it was in fact an anti-stimulus package, instituting ideological cuts. All of the world’s leading economists are calling for governments to stimulate the economy, but Mr. Harper goes in the opposite direction.

The projections produced by the Finance Minister can only be described as “economical with the truth.” In an effort to conceal from Canadians the reality of a looming deficit he projected the sale of Canadian assets. Under no set of accounting principles do you book a sale of assets before they have been identified for sale, let alone sold, and then add those imaginary sales to your fiscal projections. It is a little like spending money from the sale of your home before you’ve even put a For Sale sign up on your front lawn.

Thirdly, the Prime Minister launched an attack on the fundamental principles of our country and society. He attacked democracy by unilaterally taking away civil servants’ guaranteed right to strike, funding for political parties (both of which he has since retracted) and women’s right to equal pay.

After the Prime Minister realized the magnitude of his miscalculation, he has been furiously back peddling. Simultaneously he has launched a massive advertising campaign to help his job.

Canada needs strong leadership during this time of economic uncertainty - not ridicule, political brinkmanship and efforts to silence democratic debate. Canada needs a government that will act as a steward to the economy, not a government that is content to leave Canadians to fend for themselves.

It is the duty of a responsible opposition to ensure that the government is acting in the interests of its people. A firm resolution to create a cooperative coalition will ensure that the government of Canada takes action to strengthen the economy, works to ensure the financial security of Canadians, and brings stability to our fragile democracy.

Canada at its foundation is a coalition of people with diverse interests and backgrounds, lead by great leaders like Sir John A. MacDonald and George Etienne Cartier who recognized that our strength and genius as a nation lies in our ability to compromise and work together for the good this great land and its people. It was the ability of our founders to cobble together diverse, yet stable, coalitions that gave birth to the Canadian federation. It is an inherent part of the tradition of our country, and it is a tradition that makes our democracy durable and robust.

I have spoken to many constituents and have received an overwhelming amount of correspondence, much of it supportive, though some have concerns. I have endeavoured to take all of your thoughts into account and communicate them with my colleagues. I thank you for your calm and resolution during this time of historic political and economic change.

Finally, this issue boils down to the most basic principle of Canadian democracy. Does the Prime Minister, the leader of the Canadian government, enjoy the confidence of his elected colleagues or does he not? At present, a majority in the House of Commons have no confidence in the current government’s ability to govern Canada responsibly. Mr. Harper should put the issue to vote and let the people’s chosen representatives decide. The prorogation of Parliament shows that Mr. Harper is afraid to face the House the Commons.

Sincerely,
Hon. John McKay P.C., M.P.
Scarborough-Guildwood

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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